FRANKFURT -- Volkswagen Group's global vehicle sales rose 11 percent last month with growth boosted by a sales program for vehicles ahead of the introduction of tougher new emissions tests in Europe in September.
Sales of the automaker's multi-brand portfolio, which includes Audi, Seat, Skoda and Porsche models, rose to 908,200 in July, VW said in a statement on Friday.
"July was a strong month for the group with all brands reporting clear gains. This is to some extent due to a one-off effect – namely the brands' special sales programs for [New European Driving Cycle] NEDC vehicles," VW sales chief Fred Kappler said in the statement.
A number of automakers are trying to clear out their stocks of vehicles that comply with NEDC requirements. The new test procedure, the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), will be introduced next month for all newly registered vehicles in Europe.
"Looking ahead, the challenges remain. We are working flat out to keep the anticipated effects of the new WLTP testing procedure in the coming months as low as possible," Kappler said.
The challenge for manufacturers has been to test existing models by Sept. 1 of this year to make sure they are WLTP compliant.
Many models have required new emissions equipment such as particulate filters – because the WLTP generally produces higher pollution figures – and testing stations have been operating nonstop. It is not clear whether all models can be certified in time, which is expected to disrupt production, sales and profits.
VW Group's volume rose 24 percent in Europe last month, boosted by a 38 percent rise in Germany. In Central and Eastern Europe sales rose 19 percent, helped by a 17 percent increase in Russia.
Registrations in the U.S. rose 7.8 percent, while in South America they jumped 17 percent, with sales in the region's biggest market, Brazil, up 39 percent.
Volume in China was flat, rising 0.1 percent.
Among the group's brands, the Seat marque saw the biggest rise with sales up 36 percent.
Audi's sales rose 7 percent while VW brand gained 8 percent and Skoda registrations were up 15 percent. Porsche's volume increased 14 percent.
Seven-month group sales rose 7.5 percent to 6.4 million.